The last few weeks have been very interesting. Oracle held their annual conference, followed by SalesForce, and then Box. It was a good time to be in San Francisco as you had three distinct approaches to helping the Enterprise.
- Oracle, for all the jokes around them “discovering” the cloud this year, offered a story about their tight stack of hardware and software.
- SalesForce announced Chatterbox which makes Content Management a native feature to their platform.
- Box announced new partners and new tools for integrating Box with all sorts of other cloud-based applications.
What you have are two suites and a best of breed approach. A recent NY Times blog post on Open vs Closed covered the two approaches well. What is the right choice? What is the future?
Why Suites Work
When I run an IT shop, I hate wasting time getting all the different systems to work together. When there is a problem, each vendor likes to blame the other. My favorite situation was two systems that had a history of working together running into problems in a deployment. There were times when they each blamed the other’s latest service pack for breaking the integration.
Suites help minimize this issue. If there is a problem, you have one vendor to work with for a fix. When you are managing licenses, one place to turn for renewals.
Of course, you get a lot of bloat and you don’t always get a lot of choice.
Why Best of Breed Works
The advantage is that the right tool is used for the job. You don’t have excess features or licenses to manage.
Instead you are managing licenses, security, and integrations. While you don’t by suites of software, you may buy a de facto suite as pre-built integrations becomes a system requirement.
Poking Three Holes
Each vendor has a good story to tell. Each vendor has flaws in their approach.
- Oracle is dealing with bloat. Very few of their products, outside of their database, are considered world-beaters. Can they survive the transition to the cloud over the next several years?
- SalesForce is a cloud platform built around a Customer Relationship Management (CRM)solution. I don’t know around you, but my organizations do a lot more than sell. They deliver. Chatter never really took off and I suspect Chatterbox will have the same issues. Existing customers will like the functionality but it isn’t a threat to anyone not dependent on SalesForce integrations.
- Box is both pleasing and disappointing. They are working hard to enable their system to be a platform, but they don’t support standards like CMIS. They announced Box Embed which looks cool and added a bunch of partners in OneCloud. Of course, some of those partners provide features that should be part of the product.
Nobody is perfect. If I had to bet on one strategy, it would be Box’s approach. It isn’t because I think they are making all the right decisions. They need to internalize some of those partner provided features. That said, Box’s approach lets them invest in technology that helps them even if they adjust their approach.
If SalesForce decides that building Content Management was a mistake, that is lost time and money. The odds that Box’s ability to integrate will hurt them down the road is slim to none.
As for Oracle, the future of Enterprise IT is the cloud. Is Oracle’s future in the cloud?